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Blooming Beautiful

March 07, 2016
Sakura Season
It’s March, spring has sprung! Which can only mean one thing in Japan: sakura season is here and Tokyo blushes pale pink with glorious clouds of cherry blossom. So pop on your hanami hat and prepare for a whole lotta ‘flower viewing’...

For a one-stop spectacular, wander over to Ueno Park, where the Ueno Sakura Matsuri festival sees its main thoroughfare and lake, lined with some 600 heavy-boughed beauties, come alive with pastel-hued petals. This leafy sprawl is especially beloved by locals, and a thousand lanterns illuminate it at night (19 Mar – 10 Apr).

Since the Edo Period promenaders have admired the cherry blossom on both sides of the Sumida River, between the Azumabashi and Sakurabashi Bridges. There are around a thousand trees in Sumida Park; view them on foot or from an old-fashioned Japanese houseboat (yakatabune).

For a sakura-themed itinerary, start with a stroll through adorable Aoyama Cemetery, then refuel with a cuppa and cake at Aoyama Flower Market Tea House. Still pecky? Grab a tasty bento box from Isetan Department Store’s food hall for a picnic at popular park Shinjuku Gyoen. It’s a prime perch, near Shinjuku Station, for admiring the season in all its florid glory, with over a thousand trees in a dozen varieties.

Next up, head for Chidorigafuchi, a moat at the Imperial Palace where hundreds of cherry trees are lit up at night (by day, rent a rowboat). Finish with dinner at The Peninsula opposite, where 24th-floor restaurant Peter offers starry views, grilled treats and a four-course Cherry Blossom Delight dinner (1-31 Mar). Bloomin’ marvellous!

Ueno Park / Taitō / 5:00 am-11:00 pm daily
Sumida Park / Mukojima / Sumida-ku / always open
Aoyama Cemetery / Minato-ku / always open
Aoyama Flower Market Tea House / 5-1-2 Minami-Aoyama / Minato-ku / 11:00 am-8:00 pm Mon-Sat, 11:00 am-7:00 pm Sun /
Isetan Department Store / 3-14-1 Shinjuku / Shinjuku-ku / +81 3 3352 1111 / 10:30 am-8:00 pm daily /
Shinjuku Gyoen
Chidorigafuchi / Imperial Palace / Chiyoda-ku
Peter / 24/F / The Peninsula / +81 3 6270 2763 / 11:30 am-10:00 pm daily /

Photo © Takashi M